Why Healthcare Visits Are Important for Asthma Control
Visits with healthcare providers are an important part of asthma care. Your visits should include a review of your:
Of course, if you don’t feel well, call your healthcare provider’s office. Make an appointment in between your scheduled visits.
What does asthma control mean?
How often you should see your provider depends on how well your asthma is controlled. Control means:
Little use of quick-relief or rescue medicines
Taking asthma medicines with few or no side effects
Being able to take part in daily activities
Preventing asthma flare-ups
Not needing emergency room or hospital care
Assessing asthma control
Your healthcare provider will figure out how well your asthma is controlled by examining you. They may check how well your lungs are working with spirometry testing. Your provider will ask you how asthma affects your daily activities. This is a very important part of checking asthma control. If you have a peak flow meter, keep track of your scores and bring them to your healthcare provider. You should know where your green (good control), yellow (some symptoms start), and red zone areas (serious asthma symptoms) are. They might ask you questions about:
Nighttime sleep. How many times do your asthma symptoms wake you up at night?
Rescue or quick-relief medicine. How many times each day do you use these medicines?
Work or school. Have you missed work or school because of asthma?
Daily activities. Are there things you can’t do because of asthma?
Exercise and activity. Are you able to exercise or be physically active?
Outdoors. Does asthma cause you to stay indoors at times?
Social events. Do you miss parties or other events because of your asthma?
Asthma Action Plan. Your healthcare provider will want to review your plan on each visit.
Asthma Action Plan
Take a copy of your Asthma Action Plan with you to each visit. That way you can review it with your healthcare provider and write down any changes. Bring blank Asthma Action Plan forms so you can rewrite your plan if there are any changes. Here is a sample Asthma Action Plan from the American Lung Association to fill out.
Also review your symptoms and how you are keeping track of them. This is done by either closely watching for small changes in symptoms or by peak flow meter readings. If you need help with either method, make sure you ask during your visit.
Triggers are things that make your asthma worse. Talk with your healthcare provider about your triggers and how to stay away from them. If you are having trouble learning your triggers or figuring out how to reduce contact with them, ask your healthcare provider.
If you have allergies, an allergist may be able to help. Talk with your healthcare provider for a referral. Or go to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. You can search for an allergist in your area.
Stay away from tobacco smoke and air pollution.
If you smoke, work with your healthcare provider to quit. Counseling or medicine can help. Ask about special programs in your area. Or look for programs online. For example, try smokefree.gov. Stay away from secondhand smoke. Don’t allow smoking in your home or car. And try to stay away from places where smoking is allowed. For some people, thirdhand smoke (smoke on clothes and other materials) can also trigger asthma.
Watch the air quality in your area. If it is poor, try to stay inside as much as possible. If you have to go out, wear a mask. Check the daily air quality through your local news or the Environmental Protection Agency.
Make sure you know exactly how and when to use your medicines. This includes both long-term (controller) and quick-relief (rescue) medicines. Ask any questions you have about how to use them or about side effects.
To check if you are using an inhaler correctly, use it in front of a healthcare provider. This can be your primary provider, a nurse, respiratory therapist, or pharmacist. That way, they can see exactly how you use it. If needed, they can show you the correct way to use it.
Check that you always have enough medicine. Ask for refills during your office visit.
When you travel, take an extra supply of medicines in case your return is delayed.
Barriers to attending your appointments
You may have trouble getting to your appointments because of transportation, money problems, childcare, or other issues. If you have concerns in any of these or other areas, talk with your healthcare team. They may know of local resources to assist you. Or they may have a staff person who can help.